The Labor infighting over the Senate vacancy created by the departure of Mark Arbib demonstrates why the party’s problems run far deeper than Kevin Rudd and his alleged destabilisation.

Julia Gillard’s failure to get her way on bringing Bob Carr to Canberra has been reported and analysed as another Gillard failure, this time against the very party machine that gave her such a strong victory on Monday.

But it also serves to demonstrate how focused Labor is internally on the division of spoils of office, which has become the raison d’être of Labor’s factions — recall how much resentment there was towards Kevin Rudd’s policy of offering positions to former Coalition figures.

Carr would have bolstered Labor’s frontbench, and enabled the government to tap the expertise of a veteran politician who knew how to win elections — something in desperately short supply in the government currently. He would also have made a quality foreign minister — one refreshingly free of the groupthink that marks DFAT’s view of the world and Australia’s place in it. That this was stymied because of resentment over such a plum position being handed to an “outsider” says far more about the modern Labor Party than about Julia Gillard’s leadership.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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